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The Quieter Side of Key West

When traveling to Key West, Fla., don’t over pack. I planned for three outfit changes per day, plus shoes. Huge mistake! I was in shorts and a bathing suit every single day and so was everybody else. The fabulously chill vibe was established immediately at The Perry Hotel Key West on Stock Island, a welcome distance from touristy Duval Street.

Still, a 20-minute shuttle service leaves every hour, running from the hotel to many of the main island’s hot spots like Mallory Square and Smathers Beach (the hotel also offers bike and moped rentals for those who want more freedom to explore). I ventured down to Duval Street a few times to try key lime pie, pay homage to Ernest Hemingway (and his progeny of six-toed cats), catch the sunset at Mallory Square, eat more key lime pie, take the requisite selfie by the “southernmost point of the continental U.S.” marker, and savor yet more key lime pie.

If you’re like me and come to the island (mistakenly) believing you aren’t a fan of key lime pie, you still must try it in Key West. It’s practically compulsory. I tried varieties of the local delight at Matt’s Stock Island, Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe, Blue Heaven, Moondog Cafe & Bakery, Mattheessen’s, and Sarabeth’s. (If you’re keeping track that’s six slices in four days.) All were deliciously tart and sweet, but my personal favorite came from Matt’s Stock Island Kitchen and Bar: it was more custardy, with a coconut macaroon crust, and served in a jar, with graham crackers for dipping!

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And let’s be honest, that’s pretty darn gay.